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  • Writer's pictureJace Shoemaker-Galloway

Ahoy, mateys: It's (International) Talk Like a Pirate Day: Popular pirate lingo, words & phrases

Move over, Captain Jack Sparrow, Captain Hook, Captain Kidd and Blackbeard. Sept. 19 is (International) Talk Like a Pirate Day (TLAPD), also referred to as International Talk Like a Pirate Day and/or National Talk Like a Pirate Day. Pirates, seadogs and landlubbers all over the globe look forward to the event all year long.

It all started when pals John Baur and Mark Summers came up with the idea during a friendly racquetball game back in 1995. While people celebrated the occasion here and there, it wasn’t until syndicated columnist and author, Dave Barry, mentioned the holiday in his popular column in 2002, when the annual event really took off! Today this swashbuckling holiday is an international sensation celebrated in over 40 countries.

Whether you talk like one, dress like one or stumble upon a treasure chest filled with valuable treasures, International Talk Like a Pirate Day is just plain fun! Now you can speak like a pirate with the words, phrases and pirate lingo below.

Popular Pirate Lingo, Words & Phrases

  • Ahoy - Instead of the using the usual, ho-hum hello greeting, why not try “ahoy” instead? Ahoy in pirate speak means “hello.” Ahoy, matey and Ahoy my Hearties means “hello friend(s).”

  • Avast Ye - Listen up, mateys. Avast ye is a head’s up warning to pay very close attention. Something important is about to be said, so listen up!

  • Batten Down the Hatches – You better get ready – a storm’s a brewin’. Batten Down the Hatches is a warning that a storm is on the way.

  • Blimey and Blow Me Down – This popular phrase is a must have, similar to “Shiver me Timbers.” It is used when someone is surprised, shocked or in disbelief. Why, blow me down!

  • Booty – Now, this is a good term to hear! Finally! Booty is the treasure, the loot.

  • Buccaneer – Another term for a pirate or sea adventurer.

  • Dance the Hempen Jig – If you hear this, run for cover. It means the next thing you see, may be the last thing you see. Dance the Hempen Jig means to hang someone. Ouch!

  • Grog – Life on the sea can be pretty rough – literally! Grog, the nickname of a British admiral, refers to the mixture of water and rum which was often used as an antiseptic and to help cover up the rotten taste of spoiled water sailors drank. More grog, please.

  • Head – The name usually given to the toilet. When you gotta go, you gotta go, no matter at land or at sea!

  • Heave Ho – Come on, mateys. You can do better than that! Put a little elbow grease behind it!

  • Jolly Roger – Why you may not be familiar with the term, chances are pretty good you’ve seen one or two. Jolly Roger is the pirate flag with the skull and crossbones.

  • Landlubber - Derived from the English word “ lubber” - a landlubber is someone who is clumsy, uncoordinated and slow. Typically used as an insult for someone who is not very skilled or not adept to life on a ship.

  • Seadog – A seadog is an older sailor or pirate.

  • Sea Legs – This phrase, still used today, refers to keeping one’s balance on a ship. After being on the sea for a period of time, sailors become accustomed to the rocking and rolling motion of the ship due to waves. But once a sailor is back on land, it also takes time for sailors to get accustomed to their “land legs” and may swagger on land.

  • Shiver me Timbers – This popular phrase, similar to “Blow Me Down, ” is a must have. It has nothing to do with a chill in the air, either. It is used when someone is surprised, shocked or in disbelief.

  • Thar She Blows – Look over there! No, over yonder. Do you see it? A whale has been spotted off in the distance.

  • Three Sheets to the Wind – This is another term still used today. It means someone has imbibed in far too much grog. A term used for someone who is drunk.

  • Walk the Plank – Of all the pirate lingo, this phrase is something you never want to hear and happens to be the most well-known pirate phrase. Used as a final punishment or act of torture, an unlucky soul is forced to take his last walk along a plank, over the ship and into the sea. The person is typically blindfolded and his hands are usually tied, rendering him unable to swim and likely to drown.

  • Wench – Usually not seen at sea, a wench is a young woman. Or prostitute.

  • Yellow Jack – Often used as a warning to others, a yellow flag would be flown when an illness, including yellow fever, was on the ship. Sometimes the flag would be used to trick pirates, too. So if you are out in the open sea, look out for that yellow flag.


The Pirates Realm Your Dictionary. Pirate Terms and Phrases


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